Syrian Poet and Actor Fadwa Souleiman, 45

A French translation by   Nabil El Azan appeared in 2014 as À la pleine lune. The first poem, “For Lana Sadiq,” is dedicated to the Palestinian activist, and ends:

And what have I done, Father? We bring our revolution. She was smuggled out of the country in early 2012, first to Jordan, and then to France, where she began to write. Advertisements

Share this:TwitterFacebookEmailPrintLinkedInRedditGoogleTumblrPinterestPocketLike this:Like Loading…‹ Must-read Classics by Arab Women Writers: Short Stories by Samira AzzamCategories: #WITMonth, SyriaTags: Fadwa Souleiman, Marilyn Hacker, poetry, Syria The white revolution, of mind and soul. This will survive across space, across time.”
Also:   Rami Jarrah’s portrait of Souleiman. The poems, in Hacker’s translation, read like a powerful will to beginnings, even when they despair about the future of a united Syria. Born in Aleppo in 1973, Souleiman’s first career was as a beloved and acclaimed actor of film, TV, and the stage. I was delighted when   she gave me her collection in Arabic. In her introduction to the poems, Hacker writes:
I knew Fadwa first as a political icon and then as a friend. Three poems from Souleiman’s debut collection appear in the current issue of Modern Poetry in Translation: The Blossom Shroud. The fearless Syrian poet and actress died following a battle with cancer in Paris, where she has lived since 2012:

Image from the poet’s Facebook page. In March 2011, Souleiman left this work to join the nonviolent uprising, quickly becoming one of its most well-known faces. What victory there for us, what victory for them? Fadwa Souleiman died overnight, in the early hours of August 17. In the ending of “Image,” the poet finds the beginning that has not yet arrived:
among the days, within me, that moment when the heart claims its eternal rest
so that everything ends
and there begins within me
what has not yet begun
to begin
And the final poem in MPT,   “When the Moon is Full,” calls on the reader: “Take off your clothes / Wash yourself with the light[.]” As she exhorted in Homs, so she exhorts the reader to move forward, not be afraid, “grasp a skein of sunlight.”

Don’t be afraid
In your right hand, hold
The colour of the tribes, not of bombs
And tint your left hand
With the colour of an oak-tree in April
And the colour of dawn
So that you can cross over
For if you have crossed
So have we all

There were many tributes on social media, including one by Syrian novelist Khaled Khalifa,   who writes, roughly, that the “completion of a great tragedy comes in a sad and silent death. Good bye, Fadwa,” and Syrian writer Rime Allaf, who wrote on Twitter, “Today Syrians are mourning actress Fadwa Suleiman, early icon of revolution who led peaceful chants in Homs before Assad bombed it to rubble”
Interviewed in   Midi Libre in June 2016, Souleiman said, roughly translated,   “Even if they erase everything, we should not let them erase our dream. Her first book of poems was published in Beirut in 2013. I worked with her learning to recite Arabic poetry, Darwish especially, the way she had in drama school in Damascus, and she wrote an article about our friendship for An-Nahar. My brothers don’t love me
And don’t want me among them. It seemed like reciprocity to translate some of these poems. She also became a popular spokesperson for the Syrian people to the media of other countries. Souleiman wrote poetry, film scripts, and other texts. In   Homs, Souleiman gave speeches to rally and inspire the crowds. Souleiman was, as poet-translator Marilyn Hacker writes in the most recent issue of   Modern Poetry in Translation,   frequently “interviewed by Egyptian or Jordanian television and newspapers (there are innumerable YouTube clips of her in Syria and afterwards).”
Disowned by some of her family, and moving from safe house to safe house, life in Syria became increasingly difficult for Souleiman. Syria is not a country, a geographical entity, it’s an idea! If there is only one Syrian who remains, I am sure they will build the Syria we love.